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The 'V'-Spot

By Mike Volonnino, Crimson Staff Writer

You read them in yesterday's newspapers. A few more appeared today. I'll just cut to the interesting parts:

Bold. Courageous. Gutsy.

After missing 73 days with a concussion, ex-Flyers captain Eric Lindros' return to the ice Wednesday night has found the universal admiration of media and fan alike. His mere presence at the Meadowlands was a triumph of the will after a saga in which he heard his own General Manager, Bobby Clarke, intimate the team was better without him.

And I'd just like to add one more word to his heroic comeback--Stupid.

Regardless of whether he played effectively, scoring Philadelphia's lone goal with 30 seconds remaining in the game of a 2-1 Devils victory, Lindros should not have played Wednesday, and perhaps ever again.

This concussion was his fifth in two years. I may not be a pre-med (thank God), but I know that his brain can't be sitting too comfortable in that thick little skull of his.

With the apparent ease at which Lindros contracts these head injuries, how much longer is it before someone in today's bigger, faster, stronger NHL rings his bell again? Will Devils captain Scott Stevens do it in Game 7?

The scary part of Lindros' case is that his proclivity to concussion is clearly genetic. His younger brother, Brett, had a promising career with the Islanders snuffed at age 21 with the same problem.

The risk is so high of this happening again that someone needs to intervene on Lindros' behalf. Someone needs to tell Eric that if he keeps playing, he will most likely keep getting concussions. Maybe not this year, or next, but it will happen again. How many blows to the head does it take before serious brain damage occurs?

The NHL is rightly lauded for the incredible toughness of its athletes. The injuries the players endure with scarcely missing a shift consistently amazes. Quite frankly, it puts other sports--especially baseball and basketball--to shame.

If a hockey player ends a career with a few permanent ailments, he wears them like badges of honor. Boston Bruins great Cam Neely has no cartilage left in either knee, and he still kept trying to comeback. His career was cut all too short by injury, but the risks he took are a mark of dignity.

An exception must be made to this code of honor for head injuries. Believe-it-or-not, but players have higher obligations than hockey, and most of them center around family. With the money Lindros has already earned, he has more than provided for their financial well-being. But his kids still need a father; his wife still desires a loving spouse.

All the money and all the NHL records in the word won't mean a thing if Lindros takes one more good shot along the boards.

Eric Lindros could've been great. The price of greatness is now way too high.

Lucky Devils

Speaking of great players, the New Jersey Devils have forced a Game 7 tonight at the First Union Center (anyone else find it ironic that a Philly home arena abbreviates to the F.U. Center?) after being down 3-1. They can thank the hard work of one man, winger Claude Lemieux.

Lemieux snapped a 0-0 tie in the third period forcing the puck up ice through brute determination. It was only fitting that he slam home the rebound off of (Sucks to) B.U. alum Jay Pandolfo's slapshot.

Lemieux is one of the biggest pests the NHL has ever known. He runs his little jabroni mouth throughout the entire game. He knows all the dirty little tricks on how to sneak an extra shot when the referee isn't looking. The type of game he plays engenders no respect from the opposition, only animosity.

Yet, the man now has 80 goals in the postseason. The worst part about facing a pest is having the pest score. For my money, Lemieux can be on my playoff roster any year. He's now won Stanley Cups now with three different teams, and he garnered the Conn Smythe trophy for his effort with the 1995 Devils.

That takes a special talent and it is a pure shame that Lemieux has never seen fit to really expend the effort in the regular season that he does in the playoffs. He could surely have posted a couple of 40-goal seasons and have been a potential hall-of-famer. Instead, he's a playoff specialist. The best there ever was, but the measure of a career includes the first 82 games as well.

Wild, Wild West

Oh and there's a series out West as well--arguably for the Stanley Cup--between Colorado, who many consider the best team in the league, and Dallas, merely the defending Stanley Cup champions. As you read this, this series may already have been decided with the Stars gearing up to defend their crown in the Finals.

More than anyone else, the success of the Stars has to be because of Ed Belfour. The Eagle has been pelted at times by the Avalanche in this series, but he has stood tall. He has really erased his reputation as a lackluster playoff performer.

Given my druthers, I'd still take Patrick Roy to win that one playoff series I needed, but one can do a lot worse than the Belfour of the past couple of years.

One other thing, if the Devils finish their comeback from a 3-1 deficit, do not count them out in the Finals. A hot Brodeur, plus the explosive line of Petr Sykora, Patrik Elias and Jason Arnott, and the ever-present defense of Stevens will spell trouble for either the Stars or 'Lanche.

If Philly does hold on to win tonight, you can start engraving Lord Stanley's Cup now.

Until Next Time

This issue brings another exciting year of Crimson Sports to a close. Keep an eye out for our special commencement issue, either in print or online, to see who brings home our coveted year-end awards. There were some great moments this year, and 41 teams filled with student-athletes gave it their best, day-in and day-out.

Have a great summer and remember to go out and play. Don't waste your vacation by staying indoors.

Peace.

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